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Daughters of Shandong

by Eve J. Chung

Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung X
Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung
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Ruth H. (Sebring, FL)

Life's Cruelties
What an amazing story about China from 1948 to 1960, a time when girls didn't matter in Chinese culture. The author, Eve J. Chung says this is fiction, yet there is so much about China's history that is true. I loved all the characters (well not Nai Nai though she represents the elders in Chinese society) and the geography associated with the families and friends. My heart went out to the girls, they were so resilient (maybe not so much with Di) and I could feel the mother's angst about taking care of her girls. Travelling from Zhucheng, Shandong to Qingdao, Shandong to Hong Kong to Taiwan was quite the adventure (or torture) but the will to succeed was quite apparent. So many great details about the times and places, I could not put this book down! I look forward to reading other books by Eve J. Chung and want to share this story with my teenage grand daughter.
Power Reviewer
Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)

Resilient Women in a Patriarchal World
Daughters of Shandong is a must read for fans of Wild Swans, Peach Blossom Spring, and books by Lisa See and Amy Tan. This story celebrates the strength & resiliency of women who were 'less than' because of having been born female. Even today, sons are preferred in China & Taiwan.

Having been privileged to live in Taiwan & Hong Kong and spoken to survivors of WWII and the Civil War between the communists and Nationalists, these stories are critical to our understanding of the past as well as the current political challenges facing ROC from PRC. I moved to Taipei in 1988, just after Chiang Ching Kuo died and martial law was lifted. Filial piety was still expected. Since that time women in Taiwan have triumphed in society and government. Loved this book!
Carrie M. (Rahway, NJ)

Daughters of Shandong
The reader joins the authors family's story during civil and political unrest during the Communist takeover in China 1948, but in rural Shandong, the wealthy, landowning Angs are more concerned with their lack of an heir thus treating the mother with distain. In this novel, we experience the emotional, often heartbreaking but determined journey of a mother and her four daughters from their home in the countryside to the bustling city of Qingdao, and onward to British Hong Kong and eventually Taiwan where they were forced to endure because they were left behind when the father and others fled the unrest because there were no male heirs.

The daughters' characters are very well drawn and quite distinct, which adds depth and multiple perspectives, as their mother reacts to them individually and as a group. The mother's character also evolves as they endure dangers and hardships, leavened with happy moments and growing togetherness. Their travels are conveyed to reader in a clear informative narrative where we feel part of their lives and cheering them on, as we learn about China during this time period and the suffering many, especially women, endured to achieve success and the decisions mom and the children made together.

An excellent book and wonderful read. Highly recommended.
Power Reviewer
Lani S. (Narberth, PA)

Resilence and bonding
Eve J. Chung's poignant and emotionally charged narrative takes us on a gripping journey through the tumultuous 1940s and 1950s, offering a unique perspective on the Chinese opinion of women's worth during a challenging period. In this heart-wrenching saga, we follow the struggles of a mother and her daughters as they navigate treacherous terrain, leaving behind their rural homeland and embarking on a perilous journey to Taiwan.

The story commences in Zhucheng, where we are introduced to the affluent Ang family. As the Communist overthrow of Chang Kai-Shek's rule forces both grandparents and father to flee their home, the responsibility of safeguarding the family's property falls upon the mother and her three daughters. In the eyes of their society, these women are of negligible value, for they have produced only girls in a culture that highly prizes boys as the ultimate treasure. Sons are expected to care for their parents in their old age and pay homage to the gods after their passing, a duty that daughters traditionally do not fulfill.

Hei, the eldest daughter, embraces the traditional concept of filial respect and wholeheartedly supports her mother in caring for her younger siblings. On the other hand, Di, just a year younger than Hei, is more independent and discontented with their lives. Her rebellious spirit frequently leads to clashes with her sister and mother, despite the deep-seated love that lies beneath the surface.

As the Communist forces encroach on their village, the family's only option is to flee, leading us on a gripping journey through various cities, where they encounter unimaginable hardships and horrors. The mother's unwavering determination to protect her children becomes a source of inspiration, as we witness the daughters' transformation and their growing ability to express voices that challenge traditional Chinese norms.

Amidst the backdrop of resistance and resilience, Chung weaves a tale of hope and love that empowers this family to conquer insurmountable odds. Her storytelling skillfully explores the bonds of family and the strength that emerges from adversity, delivering a narrative that is both heart-rending and hopeful.

Chung's ability to bring to life the struggles of these women in a society that devalues them is truly commendable. Readers who are drawn to spellbinding family sagas and the resilience of women in the face of societal expectations will undoubtedly find much to admire in this novel. "Eve J. Chung's saga is a testament to the indomitable human spirit, offering a vivid and moving portrayal of the challenges faced by women in 1940s-50s China and the enduring power of love and family." I, for one, found this novel to be a truly captivating and emotionally resonant read.
Susan W. (Hamilton, OH)

Daughters of Shandong
A story of survival, based in part on the struggle of the author's grandmother to survive after Mao's Communist takeover of China; Abandoned by the rest of the family who escape the approaching soldiers, the mother and children are left and forced to walk away from their home.The mother's goal is to reunite with the family in Qingdao, but the family has moved on to Hong Kong (no surprise). After two brutal years they find their family. No easy journey, always a struggle to find food and shelter. Some people help them, but no one has much to offer, This is also a character study of the women, both young and old, their strengths, the cultural rules accepted by the mother, and the awareness of the daughters that these rules are not fair. Loved the book, and found it hard to put down.
Beth P. (Amagansett, NY)

Debut Novel
This debut novel is based on true events from the life of the author's maternal grandmother life in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Eve J. Chung, the author interviewed many relatives and incorporated pieces of their stories into the narrative of her debut novel.
The theme of boys being superior and more valuable than girls within the Chinese family structure is repeated throughout the novel.
Actual historical events that took place in that part of world frame the narrative…the reader will be reminded (or learn) of the political upheaval that shaped large swaths of Asia during the 1940's and 1950's …
Within this historical context, the book is well written but dwells on small details where larger ideas would have told the story in fewer words…for me, as a reader, I would have liked the book better with fewer mundane details as we follow the family from one heart wrenching situation to another.
The pacing of the plot was inconsistent: the beginning and middle events described in the novel are written with many details but the final portion is written in broad strokes and felt rushed.
Elinor S. (Loudonville, NY)

Daughters of Shandong
I loved this book. I'm always happy to learn any history, especially about the far east.
The way the Chinese treated females was despicable. Hopefully it has improved.
Molly A. (Pryor, OK)

"Daughters" Is A Compelling Read
"Daughters of Shandong" surprised me. With it being the first book ever written by the author, Eve Chung, my expectations were low. However, the book was very hard to put down; I found myself staying up late into the night to finish it.

The book opens on a land-owning family, the Angs, in China during the Communist revolution, and is based on the life of Chung's grandmother. The father and paternal grandparents in the family flee to Taiwan, leaving behind the women and children. Hai, the oldest of the all-female children, suffers the most at the hands of the Communists in retribution for her father's societal privilege. The story is written in simple prose, but the narration is very compelling, and the reader feels like they are immersed in the tense, desperate climate of the time. The characters are well-shaped, and for those who aren't familiar with the history in China at the time (like myself), the author provides adequate background information. I highly recommend this book.

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